Written by Sooz Kempner

In The News

Farage is wrong to be huffing and puffing over repeal of smoking ban

UKIP want to repeal the smoking ban – in Scotland at least. How about we don’t, says Sooz Kempner.

smoke trailSo UKIP’s dear leader, the irrepressible Nigel Farage, has launched his party’s Scottish manifesto for the local elections on 5 May. One of his bright ideas is to repeal the smoking ban, in place in Scotland since 2006.

Smoking is optional but breathing isn’t, but I guess Nige has had it up to here (I’m putting my hand really high up, way above my head) with citizens not being allowed to smoke wherever they damn well please. He’s starting with the man in the mirror and he’s going to make that change.

When the smoking ban was introduced in England in 2007, I was working a summer contract abroad. I’d left the UK behind and with it my weekend job as a barmaid in a 1,000-person capacity nightclub. Every Friday and Saturday from 8pm to 2am, I would serve clubbing types Smirnoff Ices, Aftershock shots and blue WKDs which they shout-ordered from me across the sticky bar.

This place was super-gross, no joke. I would come away from shifts with splashes of colourful booze on my skin, stained shoes and, worst of all, clothes and hair that reeked of fags. Standing six-deep at the bar, people thought nothing of smoking directly in to my face-holes as they ordered rounds. I’d wake up on Sunday mornings (well, afternoons) after two nights of barmaiding with itchy eyes and a sore throat.

“Getting rid of the ban on smoking isn’t N-Faz’s only big plan for Scotland if UKIP triumph in May: he also wants to raise the drink-driving limit.”

I came back from my summer in Ayia Napa (it was awful, thanks for asking) to the bar job and it was like a world of wonder. Here, Nigel Farage, is why the smoking ban never needs to be repealed.

The club was now smoke-free and that meant at the end of the night my clothes no longer stank up my car something awful. Sure, they were still grubby with vodka-infused syrup, but gone was that cloying smoky stink. Ditto my hair.

It’s amazing what the funk of cigarette smoke covers because the one downside with the smoking ban is that the air of the club was thick with BO. Better for my lungs but a nightmare for my nostrils! And I literally cannot think of another good reason for a repeal of the smoking ban.

I know smokers who support the ban as it means they smoke less. There’s even real-life proof that the smoking ban has been effective. It’s less than nine years since it was introduced in England but cases of heart attacks, according to results taken from 77 studies, are down by more than 40 per cent. Not as compelling a reason to keep the ban than my hair not stinking anymore I know, but a compelling reason nonetheless.

Getting rid of the ban on smoking isn’t N-Faz’s only big plan for Scotland if UKIP triumph in May: he also wants to raise the drink-driving limit (which is currently lower than in the rest of the UK). I know that if I’m on a night out and I’m driving, my big wish is that I was allowed to drink more booze so that I could feel tipsy when I clamber behind the wheel. Great idea, President UKIP!

Nigel Farage photo by Chatham House, London, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Nigel Farage photo by Chatham House, London, via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 2.0).

Of course, it’s not all bad. Farage’s party also want to introduce free parking in town centres (Sooz says “yes please!”) and when they unveiled their ‘Shake Up Holyrood’ manifesto (that’s the real name of it; some people actually thought that title up and green-lighted it) there was a live accordion player present to accompany all the tasty policies. Who doesn’t love an accordion, Scotland’s traditional instrument?

Look, I think we all know UKIP isn’t about to sweep the board in Scotland. They’d have to offer solid gold toilets and limitless brunch for all to have a hope of winning the Scottish local elections (I really like brunch. And gold toilets) but using a promise to repeal the smoking ban to win votes baffles me.

You might as well say, “Vote for us and we’ll let you make as much noise as you want in your house and your neighbours are never allowed to complain.” Nobody would want that.

Let’s keep the smoking ban for evermore.


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Written by Sooz Kempner

Funny Women Variety Award Winner 2012. ASDA Kate Bush.